MLB notes: Nationals' Strasburg quits dip after ex-coach Gwynn's death

Washington Nationals starting pitcher Stephen Strasburg (37) pitches during the first inning...

Washington Nationals starting pitcher Stephen Strasburg (37) pitches during the first inning against the Texas Rangers at Nationals Park on May 30, 2014 in Washington, DC, USA. (Tommy Gilligan/USA TODAY Sports)

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, Last Updated: 9:34 PM ET

The death of Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn last week made Stephen Strasburg decide to give up smokeless tobacco.

The Washington Nationals pitcher played at San Diego State when Gwynn was the coach there and said he made the decision to quit for his young daughter.

“I think it’s a disgusting habit, looking back on it,” Strasburg told MLB.com. “I was pretty naive when I started. Just doing it here and there, I didn’t think it was going to be such an addiction.

“Bottom line is, I want to be around for my family. This is something that can affect people the rest of your life. (Chewing tobacco is) so prevalent in this game. It’s something we all kind of grew up doing.“

Gwynn died June 16. He was initially was diagnosed with cancer of a salivary gland in 2010 and attributed it to his use of smokeless tobacco during his 20-year playing career with the San Diego Padres.

Strasburg, who said he started using before he went to college, was surprised to learn that Gwynn dipped.

Arizona Diamondbacks closer Addison Reed, one of Strasburg’s teammates at San Diego State, announced Saturday that he also was giving up smokeless tobacco.

“He was such an unbelievable person, human being,” Strasburg said of Gwynn. “I mean he touched so many lives. Not only in the San Diego area, but all of baseball ... Given a chance to know him on a personal level, you could see how could brighten everyone’s day. When we weren’t playing well, he always had a smile on his face.”

WALKER BACK

Pittsburgh Pirates second baseman Neil Walker returned from the disabled list Tuesday night after his recovery from an appendectomy.

To clear roster space for Walker, the Pirates designated outfielder Jose Tabata for assignment.

Walker missed the past two weeks while undergoing surgery. He decided against playing in a minor-league rehab game Monday, opting instead to hit against Pirates right-hander Gerrit Cole, who was throwing a simulated game.

Manager Clint Hurdle had the option to use Walker as a designated hitter in his first game back Tuesday night but decided to insert him in the lineup at second base against the Tampa Bay Rays.

“I don’t have any hesitation to play him in the field,” Hurdle told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.

In 62 games this season, the 28-year-old Walker is batting .280 with 11 home runs and 35 RBIs. He last played June 8 against the Milwaukee Brewers.

SIZEMORE SIGNS

Outfielder Grady Sizemore signed a minor-league contract with the Philadelphia Phillies on Tuesday after his release by the Boston Red Sox last week.

The Phillies plan to send Sizemore to triple-A, where he hasn’t played since 2004 when he was a 21-year-old prospect in the Cleveland Indians organization. The deal with the Phillies has a July opt-out, according to CBS Sports.

Injuries have plagued the 31-year-old Sizemore’s career. The two-time Gold Glove winner and three-time All-Star had not played in the major leagues since 2011 before returning this year with the Red Sox.

After a strong start in April, Sizemore tailed off dramatically at the plate (.187 batting average in 43 games during a two-month period). He ended up hitting .216 with two home runs and 15 RBIs in 185 at-bats spanning 52 games with the Red Sox.

DROPPING BELL

Heath Bell’s stint as a member of the New York Yankees didn’t last very long.

Bell, who was signed to a minor-league contract with the club June 13, was released Tuesday.

The 36-year-old made five unimpressive appearances in triple-A for the Yankees.

He was previously released from triple-A by the Baltimore Orioles, who signed him to a minor-league deal after he was cut from the Tampa Bay Rays. His ERA this season at triple-A was 5.40 in 17 innings. In the majors, he had an ERA of 7.27.

Despite his on-field struggles, Bell still is being paid $9 million as part of his original $27 million contract with the Marlins.

REDDICK RETURNS

The Oakland Athletics activated outfielder Josh Reddick from the disabled list Tuesday and placed first baseman Kyle Blanks on the DL with a strained left calf.

Reddick missed three weeks with a hyperextended right knee. When the veteran went on the disabled list June 3, he was batting .214 with four home runs and 22 RBIs in 50 games.

In four rehab games with triple-A Sacramento, Reddick hit .438 and had three doubles.

Blanks, who is eligible to return from the DL on July 8, is batting .333 with two homers and seven RBIs in 21 games with the A’s and .309 in 26 games overall this season. He came to Oakland in a May trade with the San Diego Padres.


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